Uber has announced plans to integrate London’s black cabs into its platform starting next year, according to a press release from the US-based ride-hailing company.
Despite facing opposition from the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, representing approximately two-thirds of London’s 15,000 cabbies, Uber is extending an invitation for black cab drivers to register for its upcoming service.
The new service, scheduled for an early 2024 rollout, will enable black cab drivers to join the Uber app for booked journeys. In a noteworthy offer, Uber is providing a no-commission deal to these drivers for the initial six months.
This move is part of Uber’s broader strategy to evolve into a comprehensive transport solution, expanding its services to include intercity trains, Eurostar, National Express, car rentals, and flight tickets within the UK app.
According to a report in the Financial Times, data from the UK’s Department for Transport indicates a decline in licensed taxi vehicle numbers since 2015, with a significant drop observed during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Although London cabs have experienced a modest recovery, the overall trend shows a decrease. In contrast, the number of private hire vehicles in England has reached new peaks this year.
Andrew Brem, general manager of Uber UK, said: “We’re partnering with taxi drivers across the world and the message we are hearing from them is clear – Uber and taxis are better together. Black Cabs are an iconic part of the capital, loved by Londoners and visitors alike, and we are proud to work side by side. The partnership is win-win-win: helping London cab drivers earn more, boosting travel options for passengers and making London’s transport network more efficient.”
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Liam Griffin, CEO of the private hire company Addison Lee, said: “Since its arrival in London in 2012, Uber’s operating practices and predatory pricing model have threatened the livelihoods of hard-working local black taxi and private hire drivers in the capital. Its poor record on safety and driver support has undermined the reputation of the industry and created a race to the bottom that has damaged us all.
“London’s black taxi drivers have always been vocal in their opposition to Uber – and for good reason. The tech firm has time and time again proved itself to be the enemy of healthy competition and fair prices in the sector. Uber will have its work cut out to win over black taxi drivers who are rightly extremely sceptical of the motives behind today’s move.”